One of the drawbacks to living in Southern California is that there are almost too many places to explore. This means that while I have certain favorite locations, it may be months - or years before I get the chance to hike them again. When I do get back to a favorite spot, I'm always interested to see how the trail and area has changed for the better, or for the worse. This last weekend, I had the opportunity to make it back to Harper's Creek in Cuyamaca State Park. Harper's Creek is off of the East Side Trail in Green Valley, and is a great canyon with a seasonal flow of water.
As I noted back when I wrote about it in 2012, depending on the conditions, the water in the canyon can be knee deep, or non-existent. As California is in the midst of an epic drought, I began to wonder at the halfway point whether visiting Harper's Creek at the end of May was a fool's errand. My doubts only increased (and were fueled by the slightly tired complaints of my group) as we entered the canyon area and found the creekbed bone dry. But, as we ventured just a bit further back, we found the area choked with vegetation where water used to be, and beyond that, some much smaller pools.
While it wasn't the picturesqe green flower covered verdant valley it used to be, I was impressed that some of the seasonal flow remained despite the drought. Also on the positive side, now is the time to do this hike in San Diego in 2015, as what water remains is rapidly drying up, and the seasonal wildflowers in the meadow won't last much longer. On the tip side, this hike has turned into an excellent spot to view wildlife - on our way out and back we saw a number of turkey vultures, deer, and on the cautionary side, some rattlesnakes. For those of you that like comparisions, I'll post a photo below of what Harper's Creek looked like in 2015, and 2009, a wet year. And for my frequent readers, is there a spot that you like to return to to see the changes seasonally or yearly? Let me know in the comments below.